Saturday, September 21, 2013

Blues trim roster after OT win over Stars

Team assigns 18 to AHL Chicago; Berglund power play goal in overtime wins it

By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- After Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over the Dallas Stars, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock and his staff had the dubious task of trimming his roster down to near-NHL ready when the team reconvenes on Monday morning.

The Blues did just that when they assigned 18 players to the American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves, who open training camp on Monday.

Those assigned were forwards Cody Beach, Alexandre Bolduc, Pat Cannone, Jacob Doty, Samuel Henley, Christian Hanson, Corey Locke, Mark Mancari, Tyler Shattock, Yannick Veilleux and Sebastian Wannstrom, defensemen Cade Fairchild, Evan Oberg, Brett Ponich, Brent Regner, David Shields and Taylor Chorney and goaltender Jordan Binnington.

(Photo by Mark Buckner/St. Louis Blues)
The Blues' Jake Allen (34) and Ian Cole (28) were key players in a 3-2
overtime win over the Dallas Stars Saturday night.

That leaves the Blues with 31 players (including three goalies) that will compete for the 23 spots that will open the season Oct. 3 at home vs. Nashville.

"We're into that now," Hitchcock said after Saturday's game regarding roster cuts. "We're right down to the players that are left (and) are gonna build a team (with). ... It was good to evaluate off a good energy (game). This was the most energy we've played with in the preseason, which was good to see. This lineup played quick, fast. I thought we got better evaluations on guys and so now we get down to who's going to play on opening night. We're going to start with six lines and 10 defensemen on Monday morning and three goalies and just have at it and see where we go."

The Blues got goals Saturday from Patrik Berglund, who shoveled in a backhand 2:07 into overtime with the Blues' second power play goal, Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo, who chipped in a goal and an assist as he played on back-to-back nights.

Pietrangelo played nearly 27 minutes in each of the two games, playing with Jay Bouwmeester Friday and Jordan Leopold Saturday.

"It's one way to get into the season, playing back-to-back right away," Pietrangelo said. "We managed the minutes tonight, felt pretty good. Obviously playing with Leo, too. We took a couple shifts getting used to each other, but overall pretty good game for everyone."

Hitchcock said of Pietrangelo: "I think he's better. I think he's more composed from the red line in. We want to get him back to where he was from the red line back with the puck so he's making those crisp, outlet passes. Those are timing things which are going to take another week or so. He's a big horse with that type of mobility. He pulls away from people and that's going to be a big part of our game.

"Overall, I think this will be good for his growth. He's in great shape."

The Blues are left with forwards Ty Rattie, Dmitrij Jaskin, Keith Aucoin, Sergey Andronov, defensemen Joel Edmundson and Jani Hakanpaa as well as veteran d-man Ryan Whitney. They're also keeping Jake Allen around for the time being. Allen stopped 22 shots in the victory, his second this preseason. He also backstopped a 6-5 win in a shootout last Sunday in Dallas.

"Tonight I felt confident," Allen said. "I felt back to my old form. I had a real good week of practice. Just getting some more ice time really helped."

The Blues scored a pair of 4-on-3 goals, including Pietrangelo's game-tying effort with 4:41 remaining in the game off Derek Roy's feed from behind the net, beating Kari Lehtonen with a one-timer upstairs.

"That's why we brought him here," Pietrangelo said of Roy. "A guy like him in, make plays like that. I knew it was coming to me or Leo. It was a great pass. It makes it easy for us when we've got a guy like that back there."

(Photo by Mark Buckner/St. Louis Blues)
The Blues' Chris Stewart (25) looks to get off a shot during Saturday's
preseason win over the Dallas Stars at Scottrade Center.

 
And then again in overtime, Pietrangelo's point shot from the left side was high and off the glass but the puck took a fortuitous bounce for the Blues and Berglund was in the slot to knock a backhand in to end it as the Blues improved to 2-1-1 in the preseason.

"Good starts to those 4-on-3's. We were 2-for-2," Pietrangelo said. "We tried a few different things we went over before the period if we got in that situation. Obviously it worked, scoring two goals.

"I thought we played pretty well tonight. We had a lot of young guys in. They played real well. Obviously some mistakes here and there, but to come up with two points, can't complain."

Hitchcock was more than impressed with the guys trying to make a good showing to stay here.

"The guy I was impressed with tonight was Beach," Hitchcock said. "For coming from so far back, a significant injury (shoulder), not playing ... even very many games in the American League last year, I thought Beachy was ... he more than held his own. Andronov has been impressive for me. He's come out of nowhere. Jaskin's getting better every day. he's really a horse. He just plays an NHL game. I thought this was (Ian) Cole's best night, too. He had a good night, too. There's been a lot of young guys or more even unknown guys that have come up and done a great job for us."


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